Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Cedar Creek Senior Living resident Bob Parrish makes a toast with his wife Kathy after being honored as this month’s “This is Your Life” recipient.
Robert “Bob” Parrish, 76, celebrated his birthday recently by sharing about his life with family, friends and others at Cedar Creek Senior Living in a live “episode” that mimicked the classic reality show “This Is Your Life.”
The long-running radio and television series (1948-1961, 1971-1972 and 1980s) would surprise a guest by sharing his or her biography before a live audience.
With his wife Kathlyn by his side, Parrish gamely answered questions from Cedar Creek staff and explained photographs of his family, horse, farm and more.
Parrish met his wife due to new student orientation at Washington Union High School in Fresno. A friend of his, surprised that he described the orientation as “pretty good,” had asked him what he could have possibly learned from it in only two days. Parrish replied, “See that gal over there that’s got the tight skirt on? How the H-ll did she get that tight skirt on? I’m going to find out.”
She wouldn’t “go with” him in high school, but in his sophomore year he resolved they would marry someday, and noted that in a time capsule that, though buried, later saw the light again. His resolve was successful and the couple reared four children as they moved around the San Joaquin Valley to ultimately settle in Madera. Not only did they relocate over the years, but so did one of their homes.
“Dad’s family moved from Missouri,” said his daughter Stacy, “and they built a house in Avenal (68 miles south of Madera) — but couldn’t sell it. So they decided to just pick it up and they moved it all the way to Fresno. After mom and dad got married, we actually lived in the house that they built in Avenal, and it’s still (sitting there in Fresno) — if you go down the (State Route) 41 — on the (east) side of the highway.”
In the 1960s, he and five classmates at Fresno City College were spurned by the electrician union they sought to join. Stunned that they wouldn’t fight for themselves after two years of studies, he said, “You’re a bunch of dorks … All of you have to go with me to the union hall.” They resisted but he convinced them and together they convinced the union to accept them.
He would work 50 years as an electrician before retiring after an accident in which a ladder collapsed underneath him. His five classmates have all retired as well.
Besides being an electrician, Parrish had a ranch and an almond orchard in Chowchilla, as well as a pinto horse — the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. As a young man he’d saved money to buy a horse, but then found he couldn’t afford to also pay to insure it. So decades would pass before that resolution too came true.
Now at Cedar Creek, his resolve and sense of humor remains undimmed.
“I know why I’m here,” he joked. “Because this is where everybody gives me a shower every two days. So what are you going to do?”
Again, as many times before, the room filled with laughter and smiles.